Are Singles Too Defensive?


So did you hear the one about the guy with the wooden eye and the girl with the buck teeth?

They grew up in the same town, but didn’t know each other because they both kept to themselves, embarrassed by their respective conditions. She kept her mouth closed, never smiling for fear of revealing her buck teeth. He couldn’t keep his eyes closed all day, so instead he endured the taunts of “Wood Eye!  Wood Eye!” They both longed to find someone who would understand.

They finally met, at a party. He saw her sitting alone, and felt drawn to ask her to dance. She saw him approaching, and became hopeful. He didn’t speak for a minute. But then, summoning up all of his courage, he managed to whisper “Would you like to dance?”

She smiled a big smile and said “Would I?  Would I?”

And he pointed at her and yelled “Buck Teeth!  Buck Teeth”  She ran away crying and they never saw each other again.

I think something similar may be happening, over and over again, with single people and it is holding them back from entering into new relationships.

I admit, I don’t spend a lot of time in the fora. But I do for the most part follow the blog, and the comments on the various posts. I am constantly amazed at the insightfulness I see in some of you.

And at the anger I see in others.

Sometimes I read a comment, and then I re-read the blog post that prompted it, and then I re-read the comment again. And I think “Am I missing something?” Because I see nothing in the post that, in and of itself, could possibly have provoked the response I’m seeing. I feel like there must be another story somewhere, another piece, something to explain the reaction. Do these two people know each other? Did she dump him in another life or something?

It’s even more baffling when it’s my blog post inciting the anger. Because I know there’s no back story. At least none that I had anything to do with.

And that, my friends, is often the crux of the problem.

Look, we’re all adults. Which means we’re all old enough to have been hurt somewhere along the road. Some of us more than others. And, like the guy with the wooden eye, we often become defensive. We carry our hurts over into new relationships, and even into casual interactions—online or offline. We assume that the new people we meet are going to do the same things that the old ones did. So we listen for any hint of danger, and then we pounce.

And poor, innocent, buck-toothed girls wind up getting hurt.

I understand the self-protective instinct. Believe me, I’m reminded of it every time I roll down my car window. But I think we need to take a good look at ourselves and our interactions every once in a while. We need to ask ourselves one simple question:

“Am I projecting old hurts onto new people?”

Take a breath and think before you speak—or type. Because if you don’t, you may be driving away the very person who could help you move past those hurts.


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  1. Curtis-1032804 March 30, 2014 Reply

    Hey! I got one, a priest, a rabbi and a horse walk into a bar. Bartender looks up and says “what is this, a joke?”

  2. Mike-1039252 December 30, 2013 Reply

    My first concern is in following Christ, and I try to stay within those boundaries in everything I do.
    This includes my relations with the opposite sex, and let me just repeat the word “try”, because it all takes work and effort.
    If I find myself in a situation that is compromising, at the very least the ten commandments, my first reaction is I don’t need to be here.
    Some might consider this rudeness or rejection, or maybe that I’m a simpleton, or a fanatic, etc.
    Any way at this point in my life I want to move forward in faith.
    When I first heard that joke it was ” hair lip! ”

  3. Jane-933948 December 29, 2013 Reply

    Mary Beth,

    It is a very interesting article, I remember my parents telling us that joke growing up!

    Anyway, I have thought about this subject many times. And I do agree with you. And pray for us to heal and get along ~


  4. Paul-929810 December 29, 2013 Reply

    Dear Mary Beth,
    I think you may be confusing rudeness for anger in your little tale of two wounded people. Neither was being angry with the other, it was just an enormous and cruel reaction – not uncommon I know with any form of interaction and possibly one based on fear, but never the less it was still very rude and very hurtful.

    Anger is an appropriate reaction, it is a feeling passion if you like. I can only imagine that Jesus was angry at the money changers making His Father’s House into a den of thieves.

    And there are times that I will read something even here, as I did with the article on Lust and my fears and struggles and disbelief in the implied perfection of the author all merge and I feel angry; I respond with a contained anger and an assertiveness that is necessary. Sometimes anger can be necessary to dispel injustice and oppression. Had I been the brother of ‘Buck Teeth’ I would have punched ‘Wood Eye’ right in his nose and comforted my sister. Anger would have been the appropriate response and call it defensive if you will, it is often my sort of reaction to overwhelming unfairness.

    And so it is even here with some articles. Many are written by people who are not single and struggling with their singleness, Many of us are single and that is not necessarily because we have some enormous defect that precludes our coming together in a loving relationship with another. Situations simply make it impossible sometimes for us ever to meet another, even here on this site. I am in UK and there are not very many women members – it has very little to do with my past hurts, unhealed wounding and righteous anger, but more to do with numbers.

    And I’m also realistic and see just so much written here and elsewhere as idealistic, often from a ‘holier than thou’ perspective. I am a terrible sinner and I struggle to become celibate and chaste. I do not believe that I have to earn my place in Heaven and get very annoyed when I read something that I fundamentally disagree with when written by ‘an expert’. Perhaps I’m unhinged, but sometimes my anger leaks out in any written comment – that is how it is and I would never be so crass as to call anyone ‘Buck Teeth’ as that’s not anger – that is just unforgivable.

    Very interesting article, thanks,

    • Curtis-1032804 March 30, 2014 Reply

      Paul, I love ya man, but the opening story was a joke to illustrate a point, not a deep comment on life. Hint: people don’t have wooden teeth or wooden eyes anymore.

  5. Naomi-698107 December 28, 2013 Reply

    Generally, I think it boils down to people being too soft and not knowing how to suffer.

    Boo hoo, someone called me fat and won’t dance with me.

    There’s kids in Africa dying of hunger and I”m worried about being called fat. First world problems.

    People take themselves too seriously, if someone insults you, if someone offends you, if someone hurts you, what did Christ say? He didn’t say pout in the corner and be rude to all in sundry who come along after.

    • Joseph-924851 December 31, 2013 Reply

      Fortunately, we have you, a bastion of strength, to guide us in that regard.

      Drop the attitude. It does hurt to be called fat, ugly, and/or stupid. The fact that others have greater problems doesn’t mean your own are insignificant in the context of your own life.

  6. Tony-705734 December 28, 2013 Reply

    I understand where this blog is going. There are those that go on the defensive, but there are also those that have dealt with pain another way – putting up barriers. They are afraid of getting hurt that they make sure others won’t come up to them as well. Just an observation.

  7. Michael-750925 December 27, 2013 Reply

    I agreed with all of the comments posted on this subject. I wanted to add that I have seen some difference between forums on secular sites and this one. On secular sites when you get flamed it will include foul language, personal attacks and name calling but I don’t see that here (if they happen the moderator is filtering them out). Here, when you have a disagreement it’s based on misunderstandings, logical fallacies attempts to be condescending toward another, differences in perspective and yes, defensiveness based on current or past hurts.

    To me the negative comments are just discouraging. But as Mary Beth said, there are some insightful comments too. Some of these can be real gems.

  8. William-607613 December 27, 2013 Reply

    I would suggest that it’s simply a limitation of the internet forum.

    We don’t know the people we are online with. Add to that the fact that we can’t see facial expressions or hear any voice inflections when we are reading the black and white of the printed word, and you have a very fragile situation to begin with. (And add to THAT the fact that most people do not consider the fragility of this kind of environment before typing, and disaster is always one e-mail away.)

  9. Charley-998972 December 27, 2013 Reply

    ugh… i obviously need more coffee and more priestly humility lessons. thank God for confession…

  10. Charley-998972 December 27, 2013 Reply

    cheryl first of all i never said that all people who can’t get along in society use the internet. that would be a ludicrous statement. if you look at the history of the internet and the general type of person who used it, then look at any public site today other than CM where people freely voice their opinions, you’ll quickly see how perverted those people act and clearly see how the general internet population is a fringe element of the rest of society. plus the impersonal nature of the internet allows people to act in ways differently than they would in person. that said, my comment that you referred to was merely a single supporting point and not even worth referencing, especially considering that i singled out CM as being different based on its catholic premise. there’s no reason for anyone to take my comments somehow as a personal attack and feel compelled to write a defensive reply. but it’s a great example of how people take blogs and comments out of context and “project their own [experience] onto new people”. soon others will follow suit and the comment section will spin off into it’s own vile tangent, which i believe i just successfully demonstrated lol.

  11. Cheryl-409772 December 27, 2013 Reply

    Well, Charley, I don’t think it is a matter of not getting along well in society thus we use the internet. First, I think any real Christian will have issue with modern society; secondly, I think we are on here looking for someone like minded because of point one. It isn’t easy. For instance, my small town church has about forty members and they are all either married or are children.

    Well, Mary Beth, I think you have a good point. I rarely respond to blogs….don’t have time for CM blogs and forums anymore, but I’m on vacation right now and spotted this one and it caught my interest. It is hard not to become defensive when hurt in the past so often. I think, perhaps, the best way to help this is to form friendships first.

  12. Charley-998972 December 27, 2013 Reply

    wow that’s a long comment. my bad. i need to stop doing this before my morning coffee…

  13. Charley-998972 December 27, 2013 Reply

    ok glass eye maybe, but wood eye? ouch that’s gotta hurt…

    this blog is very similar to one posted recently by another blogger. she too noticed a lot of backlash. I almost said something. but i was very hesitant to post a comment because i wanted to avoid the 2 main patterns that i recognized in other comments, and in human behavior in general: people want to show the world how smart they are (usually by tearing someone else down), and they want to impose their will on other people (“it works for me so it has to work for you”). i’m sure you’ve seen the 1st at work or at social functions, and if you’ve ever driven in jersey you’ve seen the 2nd. so in spite of how much i love attention, i didn’t wanna be that show-off guy (mission failed. hanging head in shame).

    now i’m no expert, but it seems to me those 2 themes go against the very catholic teaching of humility. (i call it a catholic teaching because there’s no greater example of humility than Jesus humbling himself to become man to serve and save us.) maybe we all need to take our priest out to lunch once in awhile and have a nice chat. (i should call him now.) unfortunately, the comment trend probably won’t change, based on the previous blogger’s experience. and if you think it’s bad here, try the chat room. there you get instant scolding. oh well. some people are just hardwired that way. and let’s face it, it’s the internet, the great gathering place for those of us who don’t get along so well in society. at least on this catholic site there’s a background of decency absent everywhere else, but i digress.

    just focus on the positive influences and ignore the rest of us clowns. look at the 1st comment. a beautiful young girl now has a new lease on her dating life. bravo. (i wish one blog would cure all my woes. i also wish i had 6 lucky numbers.)

    and a little heads up: if you ever see a car window roll down in jersey, expect a “friendly” gesture to follow. 😉

    • Curtis-1032804 March 30, 2014 Reply

      ARE YOU SAYING I’M NOT HUMBLE! We’ll let me tell you something mister…….just kidding. Hey, it’s a sore spot for most people. I noticed that oftentimes the articles have a condescending tone. I think this sets the tone for most of the blog posts. If an article touches a sore spot and people yelp, great! Start the mud slinging. I would rather people argue than hold back honest feelings because they want to be good Catholics. People are like rocks in a rock tumbler. We polish each other by rolling around with something aggravating.

  14. Robert-3483 December 27, 2013 Reply

    From Church Doctor and Gentleman Saint Francis de Sales’ “Intro to the Devout Life”,
    Of Rash or Of Hasty Judgments:

    • Robert-3483 December 27, 2013 Reply

      In more modern English,

      Hasty Judgments

      Unseemly Words, and the Respect Due to Others

      Some other related topics as found in the “Devout Life”:
      * Conversation; and, First, How to Speak of God
      * Unseemly Words, and the Respect Due to Others
      * Hasty Judgments
      * Slander
      * Further Counsels as to Conversation


      “May it please God that this book, the most perfect of its kind in the opinion of contemporaries of the Saint, be read now as it formerly was by practically every one. If this were done, Christian piety certainly would flourish the world over and the Church of God could rejoice in the assurance of a widespread attainment of holiness by her children.” — January 26, 1923.

  15. DiepKhanh-1036040 December 27, 2013 Reply

    Most of the time, i am afraid of being hurt again, so that I ended the relationship before it even started. Thank you for helping me realize that.

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